Y4 Conference inspires and motivates

Y4 Conference inspires and motivates

Sandy Harmsen was among those who spoke at the Y4 “I Am Enough” seminar Friday Dec. 9 at Cal State University San Bernardino. (Photo by Branson Tay, 8sian Media.)

The Annual Y4 Youth Conference at Cal State San Bernardino attracted hundreds of young people from throughout the county who heard motivational speeches, attended a job fair and left with a sense of purpose to motivate their peers in the community.

The event, which kicked off with an inspirational speech by Arel Moodie, drew more than 500 attendees.

“It’s Y4: Why youth? Why wait? Why now? Why not?,” Moodie, who has emceed Y4 for the past nine years.

“It’s a powerful message to teach young people they can get employed and they can make their goals come true.”

Many of those in attendance were new to the event and organizers, which included the San Bernardino County Workforce Development Department and DVT Marketing Enterprises, hoped the youth between the ages of 17 and 24 would be inspired.

“This is an opportunity to give these youth a taste for what they can accomplish, where they can aspire to be in their life and where they aspire to go. So it’s a wonderful event,” explained Sandy Harmsen, former executive director of the San Bernardino County Workforce Development Department.

On stage Friday morning, Harmsen spoke to the youth and described her journey from teen pregnancy to single motherhood to successful executive.

Attendee Shane Huffman, of Ontario, hoped his story would inspire other teens to take a chance. Huffman, who did not attend school and could not read until he was nearly 19, said it was an encounter with leaders at the Career Institute that turned his life around.

“It helped me get into college and it will help me continue on my career goal of working with pets,” Huffman said.

Career Institute, based in Rancho Cucamonga, is funded through the Work Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and is under the direction of the Workforce Development Department. It has been in operation since 1994. Satellite offices can be found in Victorville, Barstow, Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear.

Georgia Burckel, 23, of Rancho Cucamonga, mentored Huffman through the program and said it also turned her life around. She recently received her B.A. in psychology.

“It gave me confidence to do something I never thought I could do,” she said.

The Y4 event reenforces the motivation.

“The most important thing they get out of coming here is motivation to strive for something new, or in their future, that they’ve always wanted to do but never had enough confidence or motivation to get out there and do it.”